Critics conference journal #2: Content and context discussed by out-of-towners

Over late dinner, the discussions were lively at every table at Ralston's Drafthouse.

That's where those in town for the American Theatre Critics Association conference gathered for a post-show meal after attending their first Indianapolis play, "The Lyons" at the Phoenix Theatre.

These folks don't just talk about the content of plays, they talk about the context. How does it differ seeing a show early in the run (when critics are usually invited) rather than late in the run (as we did this time)? How do we approach performances differently when we've seen the actors in many other roles (as, in this case, I have but they haven't)? How much should the size and shape of a theater space affect the tone of a performance ("The Lyons" is in the downstairs Basile Theatre)?

There was also talk beyond theater with those who arrived in Indy early, making the others jealous as they shared their experiences at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indiana War Memorial and elsewhere. 

There may be some misconceptions, too. After spending time at the conference hotel, the Alexander, and experiencing a welcoming reception at the Conrad Indianapolis, they might be under the mistaken belief that every hotel in Indy is packed with impressive original art.

Today, we spend quality time at the Indiana History Society for tours and panels (the public is invited to a "Why the Midwest?" panel at 1 p.m.), then it's off to the Vonnegut Library, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (for a sample of Dance Kaleidoscope's "Piaf Plus" and a full performance of "The Whpping Man") and the Cabaret at the Columbia Club.

Follow tweets at #indyatca13.

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